CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — When Rhode Island starts issuing REAL IDs in the next few months, "dreamers" in the state will be eligible for the program - at least for now.
Just this week, Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a bill into law allowing DACA recipients or "dreamers" to continue to receive standard Rhode Island driver's licenses even if the federal mandate is repealed.
Eyewitness News wanted to know if the new law would have any effect on the REAL ID program.
REAL ID is a new form of identification authorized by Congress in 2005 and requires the applicant to have a valid Social Security number and to show proof of citizenship. The idea is that it's more secure. By October of 2020, all air travelers will need to show a REAL ID or a passport to board a plane in the United States.
As long as DACA - or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - is still a federal mandate, "dreamers" will be eligible for a temporary, or limited term, REAL ID when the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles begins issuing them on December 3.
According to the Department of Homeland Security's website, DACA recipients would have to provide proof they have "approved deferred action status' and show valid Employment Authorization Documents and Social Security number.
Even if DACA is repealed, under the new bill signed by Gov. Raimondo, DMV Administrator Bud Craddock said "dreamers" would still be eligible for non-compliant licenses. The state will continue to issue standard Rhode Island driver's licenses to anyone who chooses not to get a REAL ID.
"This is an optional program," Craddock said. "You can choose to have a REAL ID credential or non-compliant."
Under federal law, all states must be compliant with the REAL ID program by October 2020.
Because REAL IDs cannot be issued online, the DMV is hiring 32 new employees to keep up with demand. Craddock said anyone who gets a REAL ID before their current license expires will be charges $25; that money is budgeted to cover the cost of the new DMV employees.